Initially, Sibiu wasn't included in our itinerary of the places to see in Romania. We visited it by pure coincidence. We stopped there while traveling from Brasov through Sighisoara to Bucharest. And what a nice surprise it was! Without zero expectations, this Transylvanian town turned out to be so charming that we decided to spend there a whole day. What’s surprising is the fact that there's one unique touch that defines Sibiu - the old town houses there seem to have eyes!
Is it worth visiting Sibiu?
Romania, including the whole region of Transylvania is so beautiful that it really deserves more recognition. The towns and villages are extremely colorful - just the way you would imagine a fairy-tale town after watching some Disney films about the Middle Ages. I presume there's no other place that has such a strong medieval atmosphere. Sibiu was no different. The buildings are painted in warm colors and sometimes they have blinds in their windows which remind of southern Europe.
Indeed, Sibiu seems to be like a mix between the Central European and Italian architecture. The houses are not as flawless and perfectly preserved as in the West - sometimes they are scratched, crumbling and weathered. But this is in no way a negative feature, it only adds to the authenticity of the place and makes it even more charming.
As Sibiu is located on a hilly area, the winding narrow streets make it really beautiful and the houses look like as if taken from a miniature model of a typical medieval town. To observe it in the best way, climb the Lutheran church tower or the Council Tower in the main square. You'll understated what I'm talking about. Sibiu is definitely worth stopping by - it's not too touristic and at the same time is as attractive as the towns in Spain or Italy. Don't miss it and visit it if you have a chance!
The houses have eyes
As I've mentioned, the houses in Sibiu have one distinct feature - the roofs of the old town buildings have small, narrow windows that resemble eyes. They originate from as early as the 15th century. There are a few legends trying to explain this phenomenon - some say that authorities used those windows to spy on citizens in order to make sure that everything was in order. This is quite unnerving when related to the Ceaucescu’s strong dictatorship in Romania as the ordinary people were indeed under surveillance. But there is no proof that Sibiu’s “eyes” were used for that purpose and this remains only a city legend. Nevertheless, it’s a really cool, unique thing that is not seen anywhere else.
What to see in Sibiu
Sibiu is so small that it’s very easy to roam through the old town’s streets and visit all the attractions in a day. Below, you can see the map of the things that are not to be missed - don’t worry, you’ll probably come across all of them just by walking around:
Piata Mica (small square)
The small square (Piata Mica - number 2 on the map) is the main point of the old town. In this area, you’ll see many of the houses with their eyes in the roof, the tourist information center, restaurants, pubs and other attractions:
The Bridge of Lies (1 on the map) - the bridge we can see today was built in 1859 (it had been wooden before). It connects two sides of the Small Square. The name is derived from a couple of legends surrounding the place. And they are quite creepy. The small square was used as a center of all sorts of punishments in the medieval times - executions by beheading, hanging or locking the victims in a cage. It is thought that the bridge was also used to punish people - especially liars - legends say that if someone was lying (for example a virgin before the marriage), the bridge started shaking and making noises. That unfortunate person was then thrown of the bridge.
The Council Tower (4 on the map) - dating back to the 13th century, the tower was used for various purposes (even as a prison). Today it houses a few exhibitions about Sibiu and is offers one of the two best viewpoints of Sibiu. You can admire the whole Small Square and the houses around as well as the Lutheran Cathedral. The only bad thing is that the windows have glass which makes it quite difficult to take clear picture. But I managed to take one as you can see in one of the photos below.
The Lutheran Cathedral (3 on the map) - It is the most famous cathedral in Sibiu, the shape we see today dates back to the 14th century. The roof is beautifully colorful an you can admire it from one of the towers. For me, it was the best viewpoint in Sibiu. Don’t miss it! You can see the entire old town, the streets and the houses - it all resembles a miniature model of a medieval town, as I’ve mentioned above. And the good thing is there is no glass that would prevent to take amazing photos!
Piata Mare (Large Square)
Piata Mare - the Large Square (number 6 on the map) lies on the other side of the Council Tower. It is the largest square in Sibiu. Nowadays, it’s s center for festivals, fairs and concerts. In the past, similarly to the Small Square, it was the place for executions. It dates back to the 14th century and the architecture is more grand than in the small square. You can find here the National Museum. And these are the other attractions you can see on this side of the town:
Holy Trinity Catholic Church (6 on the map) - dating back to the 18th century, a catholic church with a typical Central European architrcture
Reformed Church (7 on the map) - small church dating back to the 18th century, you will notice it on the way to the Holy Trinity Cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral (8 on the map) - the seat of the Orthodox Archbishop of Sibiu. Comparing to other monuments, it’s quite recent - the beginning of the 20th century. However, it is as impressive as the Lutheran Cathedral, although completely different in style
Potters Tower (9 on the map) - a part of the city walls and the defensive fortifications of Sibiu, built in 15th century
If you drive and heading down south to Bucharest, choose the most famous road of Romania - Transfagarasan. It cuts through a range of high mountains (2000 meters above the sea level) and has multiple bends and curves that can be admired when you reach the top. Most probably you saw it in some photos/wallpapers that people use on their desktops.
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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